About SEO Book.com:

SEO Book.com is a leading SEO blog by Aaron Wall covering the search space. It offers marketing tips, search analysis, and whatever random rants come to mind. ;) The first version of my popular SEO Book came out in December of 2003. I have probably revised it about 50 times since then.

Balancing answering emails, blogging, reading blogs and forums, buying and developing sites, working for a couple customers, and running Threadwatch is pretty hard - especially with zero employees.

In the past SEO Book was more about posting search news, but since the market has got so saturated on that front and I acquired the Threadwatch community I have decided to keep Threadwatch focused on the latest search news and speculation, and to use SEO Book to answer customer questions and to offer online marketing strategy tips.

In 2007 I decided to shut down Threadwatch to focus more energies on improving this site. Shutting down Threadwatch has meant that more of my whinges have wound up on this blog.

In 2008 I transitioned SEO Book to a membership site, offering: over 100 online training modules, tutorial videos, custom SEO spreadsheets, exclusive tools, and a community support forum.

SEO Consulting:

I do consulting on a limited basis. You can buy a phone consultation with my partner and me here.

I also recently have been working on a few client projects. If you are interested in outsourcing ongoing SEO / SEM work I may be available. I am mostly looking for higher end corporate clients that can afford to spend at least $20,000 a month on online marketing. I work with Scott Smith as a partner in Clientside SEM.

Aaron Matthew Wall

Aaron Wall.


Over the last couple years websites I own and I have been mentioned in niche online and print marketing publications like iMediaConnection and Marketing News, as well as popular tech sites like Slashdot and TechCrunch, right on through to large mainstream news publications like The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, Wired, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Business2.0, Time Magazine, The Register, MSNBC, and The Guardian. A few recent examples:

Some of my other projects, like my search engine, have been referenced by college libraries and given awards like the JournalismNet pick of the week. I also was a founder of the blog review network ReviewMe, but sold my interest in that company in early 2007.

In addition to blogging, speaking at conferences, and participating in many search marketing communities, I consult for clients large and small. I have a vested interest in a wide array of websites that allow me to keep an eye on both the free and paid sides of search.

Having literally written the book on search engine optimization I know the industry inside out. My book has been used as course text for MBA classes and I have spoken at industry conferences and schools about search engine optimization and internet marketing. Compete.com rates SEO Book.com as being one of the top 10,000 most popular websites.

To contact me with press inqueries email me at seobook@gmail.com or call 401 207 1945. I am usually pretty quick at answering emails. The phone gets answered by me as well. If I am unable to answer your questions I know who would be able to.

About the SEO Book Site Design:

My logo was designed by an Australian logo designer for $99. I would give you his URL, but he was really flakey. Like every other time I bought a logo I got an amazing logo. Every other time I bought a logo I paid him and got no logo at all. Weird, and frustrating, considering how talented he is.

In March of 2006 the SEO Book blog was redesigned by Chris Pearson. He does solid work. He is the best designer I have ever worked with.

General Theory on SEO and the Web:

  • I don't think you have to spend lots of money if you are willing to work hard and/or come up with fundamentally unique, creative, and useful ideas.
  • Looking at co citation data can help you find some low hanging fruit, but it is hard to catch up with a competitor if you only follow their foot steps. You have to come up with some new strategies or integrate a variety of strategies from different markets.
  • Viral marketing is huge.
  • Most for sale SEO tools are a waste of time and money because they push how useful they are even after the algorithms have evolved beyond their use. They cause people to focus on arbitrary goal sets instead of thinking about logical holistic marketing methods and social interaction.
  • Success takes time. If you can afford it, sometimes buying an old site is a good way to start - especially if you are trying to compete in Google in a saturated market.
  • Older sites seem to be able to get away with doing more shady things than a new site can.
  • Sometimes buying a custom ad page on a trusted site is the cheapest and quickest way to the top of the search results.
  • If many people cover your topic then on-page-SEO may be nothing more than trying to write in a way that inspires others to link at your content.
  • Controversy = links. Interest = links. Porn = links.
  • Google is getting better at scrubbing link quality. They can detect many paid links...especially if they are in blocks of paid links. They only want to count legitimate editorial citations.
  • MSN and Yahoo! are still pretty easy to manipulate using link spam.
  • There are still many arbitrage opportunities and unexplored categories, but it is probably worth it to have at least one good site to help you logarithmically grow value as time passes.
  • The web is like New York City or pornography: there is so much demand, implied intent, and capital that even small niches can become highly profitable if you target your site and brand around them.
  • Duplicate content filters are getting better.
  • Google does not want to index thin affiliate sites or empty shell product databases.
  • Human editorial review is an important part of all major search engines.
  • Eventually usage data may become as important as linkage data.
  • It is easy to get burned out or feel like you are stuck in a hole if you are just chasing the rat race. Doing something you are truly interested in will make it easier to enjoy and will make you less likely to get burned out.

Favorite Blog Posts:

Here is a short list of some of my favorite blog posts:
  • Google vs Yahoo! vs MSN - long post, but makes it easy to understand the differences between the major search engine business models and relevancy algorithms.
  • TrustRank - a link evaluation system based on boosting sites with links from known trusted sources
  • Link Spam Detection Based on Mass Estimation - a link filtering algorithm used to detect artificially high PageRank sites for manual review and lessen the effectiveness of spammy inbound links

Currently search algorithms are heavily weighted on link citation data. The key thing to remember is that Google only wants to count true editorial citations in their linking algorithms. Either you need to get true citations or make some of your citations seem extra legitimate.

The above posts may seem a bit complex if you are totally new to the SEO market. The Q & A category and search engine glossary should be rather easy for new search marketers to understand (or at least that is the goal). Also there is a site search to the right that may help you find answers to questions you may have. If that doesn't work there are many SEO forums worth giving a visit.

Favorite SEO Tools:

Some of my friends and I have put together many free search engine optimization tools. My favorites include:
  • Hub Finder - good link analysis tool for finding hub sites which may be good targets to request links from
  • SEO for Firefox - modifies search results to show marketing data inline with the results
  • SEO Book Keyword Research Tool - driven off Overture, this tool cross references just about every useful keyword research tool on the market.

About Aaron Wall:

Picture of Google's Matt Cutts grabbing me with Joe Duck in the background.

Matt Cutts, Joe Duck, and Aaron Wall.

I have written a couple of about me pages in the last few years, so it is easy for this to feel a bit narcissistic, but about pages are supposed to be fun, so...

Growing Up:

I was the youngest of 4 kids raised by a single mother. My older siblings stretched her pretty thin, and I don't know how my mother was able to remain sane raising all of us. There was quite an age gap between my siblings and I, so I frequently felt a bit like a third wheel around them.

I think my mother and father were both rather smart, and some of that passed on to me. In grade school when we would play certain math games where kids moved around the class to compete with each other I would win so much that some of the other kids would boo me, and cheer when I would finally lose. I liked attention in that sort of way...doing what was not expected, or being unafraid to be different.

What gifts I had in math I lacked in writing or spelling. In 5th grade I took the college entry exam and outscored the average college bound senior in math. In high school I had a sixth grader's spelling skills. OH, the irony that I wrote a book.

I also was essentially legally blind until half way through high school without knowing it (technically to be legally blind your vision has to be uncorrectable...but mine was worse than the legally blind threshold and went uncorrected because I didn't know any better). Due to many quirks (also doing stupid things like breaking a tooth or two) and social circumstances (frequently moving and struggling to find my identity) I was rather withdrawn from society - and perhaps still am.

I always liked being active, although creating a business model from scratch while learning about SEO and marketing required me to over-invest. I have found that my weight and happiness tend to be inversely proportional. I have started losing weight again, but a couple years staring at a monitor can sure pack the pounds on ;)

Entrepreneurial Lifestyle:

I have always been entrepreneurial and have over-invested in anything I did. As a kid growing up I raked leaves and shoveled snow for money. I also was a paperboy. I got to where I knew

  • what order to deliver newspapers in
  • the most efficient ways to do my route (ie: when should I be on foot or bicycle)
  • when to collect payment (ie: is that car in the driveway owned by the person who tips
Much of the paper route money was plowed into baseball cards. I started collecting baseball cards in 1989 at the age of 10 and by the time I was 16 I sold cards at shows. That actually taught me quite a bit about marketing. The main tips were:
  • Money was just a means for barter.
  • Just because I liked something did not mean others would.
  • If I thought something was junk that was irrelevant if others liked it.
  • Different markets have different demands.
  • As long as I was organized, if I offered simplicity in pricing, it typically more than made up for any loses created by those pricing opportunities.
  • Some items go for a premium over their fare market value.
  • Things which are past their day or out of the limelight not only decrease in value, but then are even harder to sell at the lower value.
  • Predicting trends and arbitrage on other's inefficiencies created opportunities to profit.
  • The items that attract shoppers and the items that sell are not necissarily the same items, but there is a synergystic effect if they are well organized. I really appreciate learning that lesson as it relates to linking (ie: those who recommend your stuff and grant you authority may not be the same people who purchase your items).

The Military: Arg...

A week after high school I joined the Navy. I was a nuclear reactor operator on a special operation fast attack submarine. I almost failed the first exam and then almost got a perfect on the second one. I came to appreciate that I am hit or miss with many things, but the Navy expected you to be consistant, and that was just not what I was good at.

I did not much like that lifestyle, as I was rather depressed by the environment (no sunlight, artificial controlled isolation, inactivity abound, etc.). I also had many negative things happen within my family (grandfather died, brother got hiv, sister went to jail, etc.). I lost faith in prettymuch everything to do with life and was perhaps one of the most self destructive people to ever live through their own stupidity.

Around the time I was getting out of the military (with an OTH discharge - due in large part to my bad attitude, lack of conformity, and distaste for hypocricy) I decided to make a rant website about navy nuclear power. At the end of 2002 I registered a domain to express my opinions and quickly started learning about the web. I believe my navy nuclear power rant site first went live in January of 2003.

The economy was in a bit of a downturn and my negative attitude made it hard for me to get a job. All this sorta made the web, an ideal I did not quite understand yet, seem more and more appealing.

Oddly enough I think we tend to find what we really want sometimes only after experiencing what we really do not want. While I have only grown to hate the military more (especially the Military-Industrial Complex) as I learn more about society, I think given my attitude growing up I probably needed to fail at something really bad after high school to help me grow up. I do not wish to relive my time in the military but I do not regret it. I also made some good friends in the military and even helped employ a few of them for a while. One of them even programmed many of my free SEO tools.

Bankruptcy, Almost...

When I got out of the military I was almost financially bankrupt (I totally was emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially). Lots of wonderful hidden living expenses and a bad roommate cleaned out what little money I had. Living in New England was expensive too. I backdated a credit card application to make it look like I was still in the military and used that for living money while I started learning about the web. Thank you Chase!

While I consumed information at a fast rate it still took a while to learn what I wanted to do and how to do it profitably. I ended up getting another job as a middle level manager for an international corporation (thanks, in part, to a lazy military recruiter that did not ask questions about how I got out of the military - thanks to him too).

About a month after starting that job they screwed up my pay check and it took about a month to get it. Running late for work I bumped another car. My roommates accidentally hid my car insurace bill. And the Navy sent me a bill for overpaying me. All that happened in like 3 days.

In spite of financial woes, I never filed for bankruptcy or unemployment. My mother also tried to help me out, but I sent her the money back. My theory was that if I could not afford to live then I did not deserve to. I had to pay my own way.

While I have grown to hate authority I tended to like that job as a middle level manager - it was fun. I think I was a decent boss who set a good example by always working hard. My one down side was that I once again found myself spread too thin, working more and more hours for no additional money (I was on salary). I almost wrecked my car twice and got numerous speeding tickets. I quit that job after 8 months when I had about $10,000 of debt and I was making only about $100 a month off the web. I kept learning about the web while I had that job...and it was really more than one person could do, working about 100 to 120 hours a week between the job and the web.

At the start of 2004 I made $300 a month. By the end of the year I made over $10,000 a month. I have given away a ton of money and intentionally overinvest in learning because if things go bad, (and they could soon with how corrupt and debt ridden the US is) all you really have are your friends and your knowledge.

On Social Policy:

I think there is a large amount of corruption in the world. On at least 3 occassions our justice system sold itself short to me, and thus I do not have much faith in it.

  • as a teen I was found guilty of something my brother came to court to admit that he did
  • in the Navy my sleazy chain of command destroyed their own work records of mine prior to processing me out of the military
  • my sister is wrongfully in jail - I could write 50 pages on that point alone

I know the world is much larger than I or the US, but I only started to do well as I stopped listening to what leaders told me, and fell out of the social framework and rat race most people are stuck in.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair

There are many ways to bankrupt a country. The entrepreneurial spirit in Washington DC is causing us to try many of them at once.

How can a government that outsources the printing of its own currency expect to be trusted to legislate moral values? They can't.

I also believe that many people in power have a fundamental belief that they have to take advantage of (or screw over) other people to keep their power. I also think that at the same time many of them feel they deserve everything they have, but "the myth of self-made success is destructive to the social and economic infrastructure that fosters wealth creation" as noted in this great report. Wealth in and of itself is not a bad thing though. It is only unjust wealth that pisses me off - like when the government gives a company billions in tax breaks and funding to estabilish a monopoly and locks out competing businesses.

Most people get held below a certain level and lack the ambition necessary to rise above it, as stated in this Carl Sandberg poem. I am not smart enough to know the right answers to the problems in the world right now, other than my biggest problems are my own, and that if I want to inspire change I should fix myself first and try to become the change I want to see (or that's Gandhi's theory anyhow). I also need to personally support things I believe in and not support things I do not.

I should try my best to help spread things I like. Also if information systems or companies are producing and marketing biased information I can help humanity by creating self generating websites that emphasize other aspects of the story, like my Depression Blog. In many instances I have seen one biased group try to pick on a smaller group, and in the process lend credibility to the smaller group. If someone wants to sue me for being honest I will not stop them from destroying their brand.

While it is easy to create something that is overtly biased or self selecting in a biased manner it is even harder to inspire ways to create and organize profitable social changing information that tells a quality end to end story. Search is comoditizing many things, but those who put distribution first tend to find business models, even if they are indirect.

Many important stories go untold while other people are granted arbitrary authority due to publishers that want to seem unbiased. Worse yet, with so many people publishing their thoughts it is hard to state anything original and it is easy to become an echo in an echo chamber (see Digg, Tech.Memeorandum, etc.).

Curious About Search:

From creating my whinge site about the Navy I noticed you could manipulate the results. Even though it was no good I wanted people to see my site! I also noticed you could get paid for affiliate links and created one of the worst affiliate sites ever (I only profited from it because I was bad at spelling). Since my first couple websites were bad on pretty much every level, marketing on literally no money was a bit of a trick. Lucky for me search algorithms were much less advanced back then. Even Google was so easy to manipulate that all you needed was to GoogleBomb it with targeted anchor text links (although that has since changed on a number of levels).

When I was new to search I was interested in ways to manipulate relevancy. I did some junky stuff, like adding spammy links to the Burning Man site. That sort of activity carried me along ok, and nobody really called me out on it, but I only started to become successful when I looked beyond that and looked toward trying to solve real problems and build a brand. I still work with a couple clients that make plenty of money from search without strong brands, but it is hard to be a successful consultant type without a strong personal brand.

Love for Search & the Web:

In some cases search has the potential to create dystopian aspects where we chose to see reality exactly how we like it (and perhaps marketers can play right into our weaknesses to profit from bogusly reinforcing our limited world views), but at the other end of the spectrum search (and spreading knowledge) can help the world overcome many of it's biggest problems.

I love Adam Bosworth's philosophy and think Bruce Sterling's recent SXSW speech is well worth a listen.

My First Conference:

I got curious and fascinated about search, wondering how it worked. I helped stuff bags for Search Engine Strategies in Boston in 2003 in exchange for a free pass. I dressed Aaron-like most days and few people talked to me. One day I wore an old suit I had and a bunch of people talked to me. I thought that was kinda funny and still find it psychologically hard to wear a suit. I never really felt that I was any type of a business guy.

My First SEO Site:

Danny Sullivan, father of search journalism, stated that he thought that everything was going to start being called search marketing...and that ended up being the basis for the name of a site I created where I posted notes about SEO.

I registered that domain name like 5 minutes after getting out of the evening chat with Danny Sullivan. When I created that domain name (with a hyphen and a .info extension) I was pretty ignorant about branding. I had not yet read much Rob Frankel.

My First Client:

I created a site that was moreless a bunch of personal notes about SEO. When that site had no formatting at all someone found that site and hired me to do work for them before I knew I was selling services. They quickly made thousands of dollars from my work, but I still did not appreciate the value of it (I only charged them $100).

Forum Junkie:

I made thousands of posts on forums, answering and asking many questions. I probably read millions of forum posts over a couple years, and ended up moderating at about a half dozen forums. A total forum junkie of sorts. While being rather reserved and withdrawn from social activity in the physical world I for some reason found no problem being outgoing on the web.

Lucky Article:

Around the time of Google Update Florida I wrote an article that got popular and started getting so many leads that it scared me. Most of the leads were not worth working with, but I went from being new to the web and totally wet behind the ears in business to getting so much exposure that I was getting like 20 to 30 calls a day.

Reflecting back on that article much of it was probably wrong, but I guess what is popular is not always right, eh.

Write a Book:

I realized that there is a bit of a feast or famine effect to selling consulting services (and I generally undervalued my own services), so I packaged some of the knowledge I had and started selling it in ebook format. Early versions probably were not that good. In fact, the original version was free. I gave away the ebook in December of 2003. I started selling it in February 2004. I have probably revised the ebook about 50 times since the original version.

I am not a person big on pride, but I worked hard to make what I think is the best book covering the search space from a marketing perspective. It has done far better than I would have ever imagined, especially with as out of favor as SEO books were when I originally launched mine.

Marketing SEO Book:

While there were some forum threads on the topic there was not much search volume for SEO books when I started this site. In fact, the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool showed 0 search volume for SEO Book. Many SEO forum threads asked about SEO books and the answer was invariably that they were all outdated. I thus incorporated the up-to-date marketing message into the packaging of my ebook in seven major ways:

  • frequently posting to this blog
  • integrating the mini ad post into the blog design
  • frequently posting to forums and writing articles
  • putting my ebook in ebook format so that it was easy to update
  • frequently updating my ebook
  • sending out free update notifications that were genuinely useful
  • quickly answering thousands and thousands of emails (though I have got a bit slower at this recently in some cases)

Selling a Bunch...

The average published book sells far fewer copies than I sold of my ebook. A well known traditional book publisher contacted me and offered to publish my ebook, but it would have killed the business model. The offer was excellent off the start, but as time passed it felt more and more questionable.

I love being able to alter my book over and over again to make it better. And publishing physical books invariably is expensive and offers low returns unless you use the book to push indirect business models.

Getting Sued:

A company at or near the lower end of the business ethics ladder sent me a bogus lawsuit. I originally wanted to just make it go away, but a friend pushed me to fight it, which helped this site get far greater exposure, including references in The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The Guardian, BusinessWeek, and a number of newspapers.

What to do With Profits?

I have never really been a profit driven person. I do not like making lots of profits because I hate paying taxes that fund wars I do not believe in. At the same time I need to make enough to be able to fight off any sleazeballs that try to challenge my ability to live or help others. Getting sued perhaps changed me to make me a bit more interested in making more money, although I have found it hard to do things just for money because I am doing well enough that I do not need to do that at this point. Having said that, I still own a number of crummy sites that could be a bit more altruistic. I would love to shift from being a publisher of 1 main channel to a person who owned a network of useful sites.

I paid off all my debts and bought a few shares of Google, but have stopped buying stocks because I know I can make far more from Google's search index than I can from buying their stock. I spent thousands creating a number of free SEO tools and intend to create more. I sent a bunch of my profits to help out with the recent horiffic tsunami and also help feed a couple poor kids each month. I have about 200 domain names and tons of ideas, but unless I hire someone or get better at partnering with others it is going to be hard doing much with some of my ideas.

More About Me:

I have a whinge blog. Although I wouldn't recommend reading it! I have been told that I am too open and write things that most people would not write, but the web is one of my biggest expressive outlets, and I have found that others have shared stories with me they probably would not have if I were less open.

If you are interested in SEO I update SeoBook.com many times each week. Nearly daily if possible.


I am far more successful than I would otherwise be due to the work of the following inspiring people:

  • NFFC - a friend who goes by that nickname
  • Tim Berners-Lee - created the WWW
  • Seth Godin - great book author and smart marketer who is surprisingly accessible for his popularity
  • Danny Sullivan - the best search journalist

Recomended Articles:

Recomended Books & Ebooks (Search Related):

Recomended Books & Ebooks (General):

Recomended Websites:

  • SEO Forums - list of popular SEO forums
  • SEO Blogs - list of SEO blogs of various quality and updating frequency. It used to be fairly comprehensive but I have not updated it as frequently as I did in the past.
  • SEO Tools - here are my free SEO tools. Here is a review of many SEO tools on the market. Here is a slightly longer list of tools, but the reviews are not as in depth on the second link. If you have any questions on SEO software just shoot me an email and I will try to answer your questions as best I can.
  • Yahoo! Mindset - allows you to adjust search results to bias them toward commercial or informational results.
  • World Changing - website about creating a sustainable world.

Recomended Videos & DVDs:

  • 1972 ARPAnet video - free online video which makes it easier to understand the goals of the internet, since you get to hear people talk about it as they were creating it.
  • The Fog of War - see how a former Secretary of Defense viewed his roll and his mistakes.
  • An Inconvenient Truth - Al Gore film about global warming.
  • Manufacturing Consent - movie about Noam Chomsky, and how sources of power and business interests bias the mainstream media.
  • Jeff Dean of Google - free online video of a behind the scenes look at Google
  • Carl Sagan's Cosmos - about the world and universe. Some of my scientific friends think Carl was more of an actor than a scientist, but he still popularized science and I love the Cosmos series. My favorite DVD ever.
  • The Corporation - explains some of the fundamental reasonings behind how the corporate structure undermines society and humanity.
  • Supersize Me - shows how unhealthy certain food is. I literally could never again eat at McDonalds after watching this. I lost about 10 pounds in a month after watching this.
  • The Money Masters - DVD about how absurdly fraudulent most monetary systems are. For example, the Federal Reserve is not part of the US Government, but is a private for profit corporation which makes money backed by nothing (ie: they print currency and/or just move digets in computers and profit). They control the interest rates and government debt levels to accumulate wealth and power at great expense to society at large.
  • No Way Home - story about Bob Dylan's rise to fame from total obscurity. He is the best song writer ever.
  • Meeting People Is Easy - Documentary about a Radiohead tour, depicting what it is like to be a rock star and how some of that lifestyle may taint your view of the world. While sometimes it is hard to understand the meaning of some of Radiohead's song they are my favorite band right now. IMHO, no other band is as good live as they are. :) Also, here is a killer quote from inside the front cover of their DVD
    If you have been rejected many times in your life, then one more rejection isn't going to make much difference. If you're rejected, don't automatically assume it's your fault. The other person may have several reasons for not doing what you are asking her to do: none of it may have anything to do with you. Perhaps the person is busy or not feeling well or genuinely not interested in spending time with you. Rejections are part of everyday life. Don't let them bother you. Keep reaching out to others. When you begin to receive positive responses then you are on the right track. It's all a matter of numbers. Count the positive responses and forget about the rejections.
    I largely think that is how people do well on the web. Do what you love. Be you and if people don't like it F em. The other cover from Radiohead's Meeting People Is Easy is also something I can relate to (although saying so might make you think I am crazy)
    Drift all you like from ocean to ocean. Search the whole world. But drunken confessions and hijacked affairs will just make you more alone. If you come home I'll bake you a cake made of all their eyes. I wish you could come see me dressed for the kill. What a nasty surprise. Unplug the phone. Stop all the taps. It all comes flooding back. From poison cloud to poisoned dwarf. What a nasty surprise. The worms'll come for you big boots.

Your flaws are just as likely to make you wealthy (in every meaning of the word) as hurt you...learn how to harness your flaws for profit. Don't live in the past and don't be afraid to be human. Who you are is the only thing you can do that can't be outsourced or done by a computer. Do things you care about. Don't listen to any one source too much. Create your own value systems if you want to challenge other value systems. Test things out and never stop learning. And here is another awesome video: